Rex, L. A., Schiller, L. (2009). Using discourse analysis to improve classroom interaction. New York: Routledge.
This text begins by recognizing that the “relationships we have vary based on our interactions and the contexts we are in”, which shape us as multi-faceted individuals with different identities that vary based on situation (Rex & Schiller, 2009, p.20). In the classroom then, students come to “recognize [teachers] as a particular kind of person by the ways [they] interact with them over time” (Rex & Schiller, 2009, p.20). Students and teachers construct recognizable identities for each other that may evolve within the classroom or within the school.
As an educator, the last thing that I would want to do is to demoralize my students and make them feel powerless in the classroom, inhibiting them from participation or taking chances. Generally, “people do not want to participate in conditions where they feel devalued and powerless. And we don’t want to train our students to be passive toward power and authority” (Rex & Schiller, 2009, p.21). Yes, teachers are meant to be the authoritative figure in the classroom, but how they negotiate and embody this role in the class will impact the dynamic of how students feel and engage in the classroom. Instead, considers that “for classrooms to be productive, power needs to circulate among members in a cooperative social relationship” (Rex & Schiller, 2009, p.36)
Interdiscursivity exists in classrooms: as individuals, we come from multiple worlds and “when we interact through talk with others, their worlds and our worlds intersect and sometimes clash” (Rex & Schiller, 2009, p.28). Teachers can become aware of interdiscursivity by facilitating an ‘investigating worlds’ activity. Individuals make list of worlds (communities) that they belong to, then consider a friend and make a list of the worlds that they belong to. Finally, consider a person who might be difficult to interact with and what worlds they might belong to. Compare the three lists to see what worlds overlapped in commonality. Consider how your worlds might be influenced by others’ worlds. I like this activity because it gives participants an opportunity to reflect on difference, and how it can be compared and applied in a productive way. It makes sense to me that students and the teacher should recognize that the classroom is a charged space instead of just ignoring it as a neutral space.
Students’ actions in the classroom are largely dependent on how he or she perceives if the teacher understands the student’s world and identity in that world (Rex & Schiller, 2009, p.26). Teachers have the task of creating and maintaining a certain kind of learning community that recognizes individual identity, and values these identities. Thus, the ideal classroom climate that I am striving to foster is one where social stability exists: “when collective identity and knowledge co-construction lead to a sense of community in which every feels powerful in relation to each other” (Rex & Schiller, 2009, p.43).
This text responded to my inquiry question by grounding basic theory toward cultivating respectful classroom environments. I appreciated that the text also put their theory in practice by providing examples of its use in classrooms by other teachers.